Writing Wooly Mammoths.

Snow day cave drawings

Snow day cave drawings

The lights kept flickering. Outdoors the winds howled, occasionally whistling down through the chimney where they rattled the fireplace damper. Occasionally we lost sight of our neighbor’s house through the trees . . .

This sounds a lot like “It was a dark and stormy night . . .” doesn’t it. ;-D

These frozen snow-glob critters appeared on our screen during the first winter blow this past December, clinging like leeches and daring my imagination to come out and play. The minute I noticed them I knew what I was seeing.

Pictographs like the kind discovered on the walls of the ancient cave dwellers.

Do you see the large buffalo butting heads with a smaller one on the screen? (I admit he was the first I picked out.) There are furry mammoths and brontosauruses as well. What else can you pick out?

The thing I love about stormy snow days—and as evidenced out on the Facebook postings—is that people use these days to back away from regular life. They stay in and take overdue naps or make hot chocolate, clean closets, wrap gifts, bake—and indulge in the much ignored activity of getting quiet while they step away from the everyday jungle.

I’m always in favor of humanity being afforded the opportunity for stepping down for a while.

You can’t pick up a health magazine or newspaper today, but that experts—even the ol’ “we’ve got a pill for that” Western medicine docs (finally)—are spouting the advantages of slowing down, disconnecting and getting quiet once in a while for improved mental and physical health.

We don’t do it enough, even though we know we should. It takes a ravaging storm such as a blizzard, a devastating disease or the death of a loved one to bring us around.

We always need the reminder every now and then to say to ourselves: yeah, today I’m going to step back and do something a little different; maybe something lighter—more fun—more unusual.

When the winds howl and the snow flies, my fingers itch until I pull out the laptop, park my rear on the sofa and free write until I’m tired of it.

Healing days. That’s what such days are.

Mother Nature has my eternal gratitude for sending raging, vicious snow storms every once in a while.

Advertisements

Traditions pave the way.

Never far away

She was our third kid for the sixteen years we had her, and she will have a spot somewhere on our Christmas trees for as long as I’m the one doing the decorating. We used to have a red braided rug just like the one this lab is sleeping on. Our yellow lab Ginger logged in a lot of nap hours on said rug, so the first Christmas without her I bought this ornament and clipped it to the tree. That’s been the practice for the past six years. It’s become a tradition. My take on traditions is that they are like friends we invite back for a short visit every year. Our daughters, as well as friends who visit, look for ‘Ginger’ on the tree when they come for the holidays.

That same Christmas our youngest daughter Jennifer started another tradition for our family. She created the Christmas Wish box you see in the photo below.

That Christmas evening before we all said our good-byes she handed us small slips of paper and instructed us to write our wish for the approaching New Year. We all complied, placed them inside the box, and she took it back home with her for safekeeping until the next Christmas. There’s one major rule: No one is allowed to say their wish out loud.

She’ll be bringing that box home in another week, and at the end of Christmas night we’ll open it up, read our own wish for 2010—share it only if we want to–and then we’ll write down a new wish for 2011.

I honestly can’t remember the exact wish that I wrote 12 months ago, but as a writer looking to expand her horizons I have a faint idea,  and I am looking forward to rereading it.

A writer friend of mine shared the following quote with me that she remembered from some local radio program: Traditions are fine as long as they are tempered by the progress today brings.

In my case—writing down my wish helps me lay a mental plan for moving ahead—as a writer.

If you were asked to commit to a wish for 2011—do you know what it would be?

"Wishes Enclosed"

The Sticky Things Worth Keeping

He’s cute, don’t you think? He belongs to my sister. Our mother gave him to her a long time ago, when my niece was small. A few years ago my sister ventured into home-brewed sucker making to create a little fun for her grandkids. She said she probably won’t make a habit of sucker production, but they had the fun of doing it together and creating a memory. I bet her grandkids–and her daughter–will remember it though.

There is a fine opportunity coming up where families will have their feet underneath a dining table all at the same time to partake of the whole turkey meal thing making memories–without even realizing that they are. From my way of thinking, this sounds like the perfect opportunity for family to spill the beans on family stories, tales—or explanations.

“Let me tell you why I won’t go near a can of Spam . . .”

“Is it true, Grandma, that all you had to eat during WWII was mutton?”

“How come you only raise pink roses?”

“We named you after your great-great grandfather because . . .”

You get my drift?

If we don’t take the opportunity to pass some of these little stories and tales along during the infrequent times we come together as family, how will they ever be made known?

Maybe you don’t think it’s such a big deal, but just wait until some random family question comes to mind one day and you know exactly who would be able to supply the answer–only they’re long gone from this earthly presence. It can be quite a reality check.

The writing and note taking doesn’t have to be award-winning stuff. Just write it however it comes to you. Use a tape recorder or video camera if you don’t want to have to write.

Family history can’t become history, unless it gets shared with someone, or recorded somewhere.

Create a little fun and keepsake for someone else down the line. Your stories do not belong only to you.

Acquired Grace

       I found the following poster at a gift shop in Chatham, Massachusetts several years ago. Liked it so much I had it framed and now it hangs among the other artwork and intuitive writings on the walls of my office.

 

The Older I Get

The more I notice outrageous beauty

Of stars and moon against the sky…

The softer a baby’s skin feels…

The less panicky I am during sleepless nights…

The less easy answers I have…

The hungrier I am for connectedness…

The less I know, the more I wonder…

The longer I linger in snowfalls…

The kinder I am with weakness…

The more honest I am with myself…

The more I understand children’s logic…

The less rigid I am…

                                      The mightier the ocean seems each time I visit…

                   The less I wonder how old I’ll be someday…

The more hugs I give…

The gentler I am with myself…

The less I think of what I think…

The faster I clean my house…

The wiser I long to be…

The more I realize how impatient I’ve always been with life…

The more opportunities I see in each day…

The more I think about the miraculous gift Beethoven gave to the world…

The more I play

The less I think of what others think…

The closer I feel to old, old friends…

The more natural prayer seems…

The more I enjoy a simple cup of tea…

The hotter I draw my bath water and the longer I lie in it…

The longer I listen…

The wider berth I give to sorrow in the grand scheme of things…

The younger in spirit I feel…

The quieter my inner self becomes…

The greater my appreciation of harmony…

The more time I spend looking at stained glass windows…

The more comfortable I am with solitude…

The more I see good coming out of difficulties…

The more grateful I am to be alive

The more beautiful I am becoming.

    (Gail Kittleson/Holly Monroe ©1998 Abby Press)

Rainbow Living

I have the following poster by Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy framed and hanging in my office.

I don’t care if you are a writer, CEO, lawyer or garbage collector; SARK’s advice in this collection isn’t lost on any of us.

I hope your writing, creative or otherwise, is going well for you today.

Rebecca

 

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

By ©SARK90

 

Stay loose.

Learn to watch snails.

Plant impossible gardens.

Invite someone dangerous to tea.

Make little signs that say Yes! And post them all over your house.

Make friends with Freedom and uncertainty.

Look forward to dreams.

Cry during movies.

Swing as high as you can on a swing set, by moonlight.

Cultivate moods.

Refuse to “be responsible.”

Do it for love.

Take lots of naps.

Give money away. Do it now. The money will follow.

Believe in magic. Laugh a lot.

Celebrate every gorgeous moment. Take moonbaths.

Have wild imaginings, transformative dreams, and perfect calm.

Draw on the walls. Read every day. Imagine yourself magic.

Giggle with children. Listen to old people. Open up. Dive in. Be free. Bless yourself. Drive away fear. Play with everything. Entertain your inner child. You are innocent. Build a fort with blankets. Get wet. Hug trees.

Write love letters.

 

SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) is a best-selling author who offers inspiration and guidance to people for living more authentically, and being actively creative on a daily basis.